Morning Digest: May 27, 2014

Fiery email attributed to labor leader adds fuel to two Hudson races; Fulop and Laborers say they’re all in with Smith

An incendiary email circulating in Hudson County attributed to Peter A. Busacca, president of the Hudson County Central Labor Council (CLC), has landed at the crossroads of two upcoming elections.

In the note, Busacca complains about intimidation he says he suffered at the hands of a fellow union leader and others to change his support from incumbent Jeff Dublin to challenger Gerard Balmir in the Hudson County Freeholder race on June 3. 

Sources infer the union leader is Ray Pocino, who heads up the Laborers.

Busacca intimates in the letter that if he doesn’t change his support to Balmir, political associates of Pocino’s have threatened to withdraw their support from Mark Smith in the June 10 Bayonne mayor’s race.

Sources say those backers include Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, who today shot down the political inferences arising frrom Busacca’s letter. (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Fiery email attributed to labor leader adds fuel to two Hudson races; Fulop and Laborers say they’re all in with Smith | Politicker NJ





CD 3 candidates debate on NJTV

TRENTON – Republican congressional hopefuls vying for an opportunity to succeed outgoing U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R-3) in Congress debated for the second time in as many days ahead of the upcoming June 3 primary.

The men, “two long-time Republicans” who moved from their North Jersey residences “to their shore homes” to make a run for Congress, as NJTV host Michael Aron put it, traded barbs during a taping for the weekly news program slated to air Saturday.

“I believe our country is headed in the wrong direction,” said MacArthur, former mayor of Randolph.

“I think we need people who can actually get things done,” he said. “We need change.”

The change MacArthur referred to appeared to partly take aim at partisan gridlock. It was a veiled swipe at Lonegan, who has a reputation of digging his heels in on issues. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)

CD 3 candidates debate on NJTV | Politicker NJ 





Shore communities altered forever by Sandy

Glenn Wilson needed a favor on Saturday, and he knew he didn’t have to ask. He wanted to take his son surf fishing, so he drove from his house by the bay in Point Pleasant and parked in his mother-in-law’s driveway in Ocean Beach, two blocks from the sea.

He knew she wouldn’t mind, and not just because she’s family.

“This is how it used to be on the Shore, everybody knew everybody. You helped each other,” said Elsa Ancmon, 83, who was happy to arrive home and discover that family was visiting, even if it meant she had no place to park. “Since the storm, Ocean Beach is not the same. It’s not as friendly. I like it the way it was.”

Superstorm Sandy’s massive upheaval along the Jersey Shore is self-evident. Drive nearly any street from Sea Bright down to Beach Haven, and you’re likely to see streets still ripped apart, houses jacked into the sky, and contractors’ dented and oversized pickups that seem to occupy every bare piece of ground.

Someday soon, however, all the physical repairs will be complete, and life on the Jersey Shore will return to a kind of normal. Tourism will rebound from last year’s sluggish season, summer renters and year-round residents will return to their homes, and the visible scars Sandy scoured into the landscape — the floating cars, the houses torn in half – will recede into memory.

The question is: Will the Jersey Shore that emerges be the same Shore we knew before the storm? Or has something changed, something subtle but irrevocable, about this place and the people who love it?

“You get a different answer depending on the person you talk to and where they are,” said Cheryl Vetovick, a broker with Diane Turton Realtors, which covers Monmouth and Ocean counties. “I’m in sales in Spring Lake, and we had very little change because we had very little damage. In Ortley Beach and Lavallette, there are places where they are still reeling from it.” (Maag/The Record) 





Civil service reforms snarled by obscure section of constitution

A fight between Democrats and Governor Christie over the way New Jersey promotes its public employees has prompted a power struggle centered on a never-before-used amendment to the state constitution.

It’s a dispute with roots in a part of the constitution so obscure that even prominent New Jersey constitutional experts know little about it. But the results of the fight could be far-reaching, possibly affecting the jobs of all 80,000 state workers.

If Christie wins, his administration argues the proposal will create a more efficient and effective state government. But Democrats and public sector unions see it differently: They say the change could lead to nepotism, cronyism and corruption.

The proposal would create a system known as “job banding.” State employees could advance from one job within their band to another without taking a civil service test or competing with other prospective applicants, which they have to do now. They would still have to take a civil service exam before initially being hired, but after that, managers would have much more freedom to move workers to other jobs as long as they are not moving outside their band. 

Democrats have called it “an affront to the people of New Jersey.” The head of the state’s AFL-CIO union said it “opens the door to the type of cronyism that civil service was created to eliminate in the first place.” The chairman of the Civil Service Commission, meanwhile, has called those accusations “disparaging.” A Christie spokes­man said the objections are “baseless” and said the union leaders are “embarrassingly uninformed.” (Linhorst/The Record)    






Bill Gives NJ Adoptees Much More Access to Info on Birth Parents, Medical History

People who were adopted in New Jersey would get access to their birth records – or, if their birth parents object, to their birth family’s medical history — under a bill heading to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk after a 34-year effort to enact such legislation.

The bill (S-873/A-1259) also encourages adoptees’ birth families to update medical information on a regular basis.

Both houses of the Legislature passed the bill — spearheaded and sponsored by state Sen. Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) and state Sen. Diane B. Allen (R-Burlington), along with other sponsors and co-sponsors — after incorporating changes suggested by Christie, who conditionally vetoed an earlier version.

Birth certificates would be issued automatically for all adoptions in the state after August 1, 2015, with birth parents being able to state whether they ever want to be contacted and by what method if they do.

Birth parents who had their names sealed for adoptions before that date would have three options:

  • Allow adoptees to contact them directly;
  • Allow adoptees to contact them through through an intermediary; or
  • Have their names redacted from the records and only share medical information.

Birth parents would have until December 31, 2016, to choose one of the three options. (Kitchenman/NJSpotlight) 






In 7th Congressional District, Republicans Tout Conservative Credentials

In challenging U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance for a third consecutive Republican primary in the 7th Congressional District, David Larsen is seeking to emulate the rise of Rep. Scott Garrett, New Jersey’s most conservative House member.

Garrett ran from the right in primaries against moderate Congresswoman Marge Roukema in 1998 and 2000, narrowly losing both times. In 2002, rather than endure a third Garrett challenge, Roukema decided not to seek a 12th term. Garrett finally broke through, winning a five-candidate primary and defeating Democrat Anne Sumers.

While Larsen shares much of Garrett’s ideology, he is far less positioned to unseat an incumbent who in recent years has shored up his conservative credentials.

Garrett received about 48 percent of the vote against Roukema in 1998 and 2000, but Larsen fell way short of Lance in 2010 and 2012.

In his first try, Larsen received 31 percent in a three-candidate primary in which Lance, who won with 56 percent, was perceived as vulnerable stemming from his first-term vote for a cap-and-trade global warming bill despised by conservatives.

Lance’s margin wasn’t much better two years ago, when he had a head-to-head matchup against Lance, losing 39 percent to Lance’s 61 percent.

Larsen is struggling with fundraising, generating $20,659 in contributions through March 31, while Lance listed $648,188, according to the Federal Election Commission. (Jennings/NJSpotlight) 





Bill increasing Trenton appointees on Rutgers’ board raises ire on campus

TRENTON — Proposed legislation to expand the Rutgers Board of Governors to 19 seats — and allow Trenton lawmakers to pick a greater percentage of the members — is raising the ire of campus activists.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) introduced the bill in March to expand Rutgers’ main governing board from 15 to 19 seats. Under the current law, the governor appoints eight members of the powerful board and the Rutgers Board of Trustees picks seven.

Under the new legislation, the governor would get would get 10 picks and the president of the state Senate and the speaker of the General Assembly would each get to appoint one member. That would shift the weight of the board so Trenton officials would have a say in appointing 12 members, while the Rutgers Board of Trustees would still control seven seats.

The Senate bill (S-1860) has not been scheduled for a vote. An identical bill, introduced Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), is also being considered in the Assembly.

Rutgers officials did not immediately respond to requests to comment on the legislation to expand the board.

But some at Rutgers are vowing to fight the proposal. (Heyboer/Star-Ledger)  






Democratic group steps into South Jersey Republican primary for Congress

NEWARK — Tom MacArthur and Steve Lonegan are locked in a heated battle for the Republican nomination for a South Jersey Congressional seat — and Washington-based Democratic group has decided to get in the middle of their fight.

Since May 22, Patriot Majority USA — a nonprofit political advocacy organization that does not disclose its donors — has spent more than $110,000 on direct mail, online and television advertising in the district, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Most of the ads attack MacArthur, the millionaire former insurance executive who is the frontrunner in the race.

Many political pundits believe that Lonegan — the former mayor of Bogota who has run for office several times in New Jersey — is the candidate Democrats would rather see take on their favored candidate, Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard, in the November general election.

The primary is on June 3. The candidates are competing to replace retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan.

“If you’re a Democrat, you want to run against the most extreme person you can, because that gives you the best chance to actually pull off a victory,” said Ben Dworkin, executive director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics. “Anything that will emphasize the extreme conservative credentials of one of the Republican candidates again will probably help them in the fall.”

The Patriot Majority USA mailers attack MacArthur’s record as mayor of Randolph Township, in Morris County.  (Friedman/NJSpotlight) 





From the Back Room


A Strange Buy in CD3

There’s some intriguing inside baseball taking place in CD3. As the Republican candidates, Steve Lonegan and Tom MacArthur, pound the hell out of each other, all of a sudden a Democratic-leaning PAC has crept onto the field.

Patriot Majority has been around since 2006, backing Democrats like Harry Reid and Ron Kind, and with its Republican sounding name and stars and stripes look, the PAC focuses on states and districts friendly to Republicans.

So in a year that’s expected to be positive for Republicans and a seat that’s occupied by a Republican – albeit a retiring one in Jon Runyan — it’s interesting that the PAC has gone on the air in CD3. Perhaps Patriot Majority has concluded that the damage Lonegan and MacArthur have wreaked on each other provides an opening for whoever emerges on the Democratic side, where the frontrunner, Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard, faces Ocean County lawyer Howard Kleinhendler and Lyndon LaRouche acolyte Bruce Todd.

Patriot Majority is running 2 television spots. The first attacks MacArthur, saying the former Morris County mayor increased spending in Randolph and raised property taxes every year. The second attacks Lonegan, taking him to task for opposing federal disaster relief, and advising New Jerseyans to “suck it up.” The spot concludes by telling Lonegan, the former mayor of Bogota, to “suck it up.”

Patriot Majority is running the MacArthur spot far more than the Lonegan spot, suggesting that they think MacArthur is winning and also that they fear he’d be harder to defeat in a general than movement conservative Lonegan. But the buy itself is structured so strangely that the political class is wondering if Patriot Majority simply doesn’t quite know what it’s doing.

The PAC bought a run from May 23 to June 2, basically buying every cable system that touches NJ 3. The budget is about $43,000, with just over half going to Ocean County. The strange part is that only $22,000 of that $43,000 was spent on the main cable systems in the district.

In Burlington, the PAC is spending $13,474 on the main Burlington system but dumped the remaining $6,080 on a Mercer County system that only has a few households in Burlington. The pattern is even stranger in Ocean County. Of the $23,264 spent there, only $8,497 is going to the main 3 cable systems. The remaining $14,767 is being showered on two cable systems that are mostly in Monmouth County — Cablevision Jackson, which reaches less than a thousand households on the Ocean County shore, and Comcast Verizon, which is 80% in Monmouth County.

And while the Ocean County buy is limited to Fox News – the go-to network for influencing Republican primary voters — the Burlington buy has FoxNews, but also CNN, Lifetime, and MSNBC. It’s hard to picture fans of Rachel Maddow on MSNBC or viewers of “27 Dresses” and “Devious Maids” on Lifetime really caring about the outcome between Steve Lonegan and Tom MacArthur.

One experienced GOP consultant says the buy “has folks scratching their heads.” With the great majority of the spending directed against MacArthur and hitting him with a spending/taxing message that won’t sit well with GOP primary voters, the beneficiary of Patriot Majority’s oddball buy might just be Steve Lonegan.

A Strange Buy in CD3 | Politicker NJ

 reporters on weekend TV reporters Matthew Arco and Mark Bonamo will both appear on weekend public interest television programs. 

Arco will appear on NJTV’s Reporters Roundtable with host Michael Aron on Saturday, May 24 at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 25 at 9 a.m. Arco will discuss New Jersey’s state budgetary issues and the latest Bridgegate hearing. 

Bonamo will appear on The Debrief with David Ushery on WNBC-TV (NBC 4 New York) on Sunday, May 25 at 5:30 a.m. and again at 10:30 a.m. Bonamo will discuss the recent student sit-in at the Newark Public Schools’ headquarters and its ramifications. reporters on weekend TV | Politicker NJ




Senate Majority Leader Weinberg honors 2007 GOP foe

Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) issued a statement today honoring the late Clara Nibot of Bergenfield, Weinberg’s 2007 general election rival.

Mrs. Nibot died this week.

“Clara Nibot and I campaigned for the same office, she as a Republican and I as a Democrat, with respect and good humor,” Weinberg said. “We stood outside of supermarkets side by side talking to voters together, and having fun doing it. She was a passionate advocate, a constant bundle of energy and enthusiasm, and she will be mis

Senate Majority Leader Weinberg honors 2007 GOP foe | Politicker NJ





Greenstein gets the support of police and fire

The Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) and the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police (NJFOP) announced today that they have endorsed Senator Linda Greenstein in the race for the open 12th Congressional District seat.

“Senator Greenstein has been a friend to working men and women since her first day in public service, and in particular she has been a great ally and supporter of public safety workers like firefighters throughout her time in the Legislature,” said Dominick Marino, President of PFANJ. “Linda has stood with public safety workers when she defended our collective bargaining rights every time they have been attacked, she led the effort to make Paid Family Leave law in New Jersey, and she has fought for the Thomas P. Canzanella Act to ensure that first responders have access to workers’ compensation for injuries or disabilities suffered on the job. We at PFANJ are proud to give Linda Greenstein our full support in her bid for Congress in the 12th district.”

Founded in 1929, PFANJ represents approximately 4,000 professional firefighters and emergency medical personnel.

Ed Brannigan, President of NJFOP, said, “The NJFOP is thrilled to endorse Linda Greenstein, who has been the best friend public safety workers could ask for in the Legislature. She has always understood that police officers need to be supported as we work to protect the residents of New Jersey, and time and again she has shown a willingness to stand with us and fight for the issues that are important to us. Linda has stood shoulder to shoulder with public safety workers to protect our collective bargaining rights, and has fought to ensure we have the funding for the equipment police officers need to do our jobs. We know Linda Greenstein will go to Congress and continue to fight for what is right, and that’s why the NJFOP is proud to wholeheartedly endorse her.”

The NJFOP represents over 17,000 law enforcement officers in New Jersey.
In response to receiving the endorsements of PFANJ and NJFOP, Greenstein said, “I am extremely proud of my record of support for our first responders and public safety workers, and it is extremely gratifying to receive these endorsements from the men and women who put their lives on the line every day for our families. I have always believed it is essential that we protect those who protect us, and I will continue to support them in Washington.” 

Running in the June 3rd Democratic Primary against Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-15), Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-17) and plasma physicist Andrew Zwicker, Greenstein has the support of the Mercer County Central Labor Council, the Mercer-Burlington Building and Construction Trades Council, the New Jersey Mechanical & Allied Trades Council, the East Windsor Education Association, Insulators Locals 32 and 89, IBEW Locals 269 and 400, International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 5, the New Jersey State Association of Pipe Trades, the New Jersey State Council of Sheet Metal Workers, and CWA Locals 1036,1042 and 1082.

Greenstein gets the support of police and fire | Politicker NJ Morning Digest: May 27, 2014